Ohaji/ Egbema and Oguta Youths have jointly expressed their grievance over the neglect and exclusion of their community from the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) project/ job allocations in Imo State.
The group displayed their anger when they protested at the NDDC Office in Owerri along Port-Harcourt road on Monday, July 12, 2021 carrying placards and barricading the entrance gate with make-shift coffin decorated with palm fronds and other fetish materials while chanting songs of oppression.
Speaking to our correspondent during the protest, the Ohaji Youth President, Ugorji Emmanuel Chinonye stated that since the inception of NDDC, the Youths of these oil producing communities have been neglected and denied their rights to benefit from the commission.
He further said that after giving NDDC a two-week break from the prior notice which they issued it on 28 June and without any positive response from the commission, the Youths have jointly come out to protest and express their displeasure and anger at the Commission’s neglect and denial of including the two core oil producing communities in employment allocations and project developments coming to Imo State.
Ugorji said, “The essence of this protest is that NDDC employed people recently but nobody from Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta communities was among. Most of the projects have been diverted to other parts of Imo State, as is seen in these sign posts here, and they are not part of the oil producing communities. With the creation of the NDDC, we the oil producing communities comprising Ohaji/Egbeme and Oguta Local Governments are supposed to get 70% of every project or job allocation accruable to Imo State but as it is now, not even 1% is allocated to these communities. So we are saying that this cannot happen again.
Take for instance, the only road that leads to Ohaji/Egbema is Avu to Etekuru and the road is not motorable. You will need a canoe to pass through, yet we have an intervention agency like NDDC. “So, we are here to demand for our own right.” “Enough of the marginalization and cheating, enough of diverting our jobs, enough of abandoning projects awarded to people from our place. It is time to possess our possession”.
The Youths also demanded that NDDC should give them 60 working charts, which will be, 30 junior officers and 30 senior officers to be employed into the commission; if not, the protest will continue.
The group threatened that if their demand is not granted by Friday, July 16, they will shut down all the oil wells in Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta communities. They said that they can also stop the operations of the largest Gas Plant at Assa in Ohaji/Egbema LGA and if this happens, it will cause a major breakdown for Imo State as one of the core big four oil producing states in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, all activities at the Commission has been shutdown since the protest.